The Premier League season is over and clubs are turning towards the transfer window.
But how did they fare during the last two windows? Some new arrivals lit up the league and had a game-changing impact, while others have been completely forgotten.
We have taken a look at the best and worst signings from the 2020/21 season…
Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
A few eyebrows were raised when Manchester City splurged more than £60m on another defender to go alongside the similarly priced Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and John Stones. Days before his arrival, City conceded five against Leicester City and the 23-year-old was handed the task to rectify it and fill Vincent Kompany’s large boots. He had a transformative effect akin to Virgil van Dijk’s at Liverpool and for that reason is the signing – and many people’s player – of the season.
Edinson Cavani (Manchester United)
High wages and agent fees aside, Cavani arriving on a free transfer was an excellent bit of business to fill a gap until a big-name striker became available – or develops through the club’s youth system. Injury setbacks and a three-game ban for using an offensive term aside, Cavani has proved he still has the skill and smarts to find the back of the net regularly. He will be 35 next year but has so much more to offer, having already secured United a second-place finish and a Europa League final.
Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa)
There were a number of candidates from Aston Villa but the signing of Martinez from Arsenal has seen a club who only survived relegation thanks to a technical error on the goalline technology to a team who spent the majority of the season challenging for Europe. His arrival reorganised Villa’s shaky defence and saw them concede 21 fewer goals this season than the one before.
Wesley Fofana (Leicester City)
Spending £36.5m for a teenage centre back left a few questioning Leicester’s confidence in Fofana, especially given he only started occasionally at Saint-Etienne. But he made a huge impact after an early injury crisis saw him thrust into the starting XI. His development was on display most in the FA Cup final when he was completely unnerved when defensive partner Jonny Evans was forced off.
Jesse Lingard (West Ham)
Other than Bruno Fernandes’ arrival last year, it’s hard to think of another January signing who has settled into his new club as Lingard did at West Ham. Nine goals and four assists in 16 Premier League games has seen him get back into the England fold and lead West Ham to a sixth-place finish and a Europa League spot. To do that after only playing three games in the previous four months is a credit to the good shape he kept himself in.
Honourable mentions: Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa), Diogo Jota (Liverpool), Vladimir Coufal (West Ham), Raphinha (Leeds United)
He ended as Arsenal’s leading assist maker with five (two were on his debut) but that is more indicative of how poor Arsenal were as a whole, rather than a statistic to underline how good Willian was. Chelsea refused to give the Brazilian the three-year deal he craved but Arsenal were more than happy to give it to him. It seems both Chelsea and Willian knew why a two-year deal was required given the huge drop off in performances.
Rhian Brewster (Sheffield United)
Remember when Liverpool and Manchester United fans were debating whether Brewster or Mason Greenwood was the better young prospect? It wasn’t that long ago but his £23.5m move to Sheffield United seemed a bit odd from the start, given he had only made four appearances for Liverpool. He couldn’t help the club’s goal drought which played a huge part in their relegation and Chris Wilder’s sacking. He has a lot to prove in the Championship.
Donny van de Beek (Manchester United)
Just why did Manchester United buy Van de Beek? The answer at the moment simply seems to be ‘because they could’. He was the shining start of the Dutch league with Ajax and the £35m United paid for him seemed like a bargain. However, he plays in the same position as United’s best two players, Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba. Perhaps United were expecting Pogba to leave, which now looks unlikely and has left the club clueless with what to do with him.
Kai Havertz (Chelsea)
The most expensive signing of last year’s transfer window, Havertz has improved throughout the season but must ultimately be considered a flop based on his debut season. The Blues will stick with the £72m man and he was not a disaster by any means, but everyone was expecting a lot more from him. Havertz is still looking for his best position and he is still coming to terms with the increased physicality of the Premier League. His development was a key reason why Chelsea were so keen to hire a German manager.
Matt Doherty/Nelson Semedo (Tottenham/Wolves)
What a disaster these two deals were. Doherty was signed by Jose Mourinho for a snip at £12m on the back of a stellar season with Wolves and it looked like the bargain signing of last year. Not that Wolves minded, they were signing Semedo from Barcelona. Both signings fell flat on their faces however, with both managers who signed the players now out of a job in Mourinho and Nuno Espirito Santo.
Dishonourable mentions: Kostas Tsimikas (Liverpool), Nathan Ake (Manchester City), Fabio Silva (Wolves)